Are you at risk for pneumonia this winter? Pneumonia and flu are deadly illnesses that reach their peak during the winter months.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 900,000 Americans get pneumonia every year and 45,000 to 63,000 people die from pneumonia-related complications.
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms. As fluid accumulates in the lung, blood flow is reduced in the area and oxygen levels are decreased throughout other parts of the body. This can quickly escalate to life-threatening complications such as low blood pressure, kidney failure or blood infection.
The best way to prevent pneumonia is by getting vaccinated. However, while a flu shot is encouraged every year, not everybody needs a pneumonia vaccine, says Brian Curtis, MD, director of Specialty Care Physician Practice for OSF Medical Group.
“The odds of getting pneumonia as a young, healthy adult are pretty low, while the odds of getting the flu are pretty good,” Dr. Curtis says. “Immunizing is a very advantageous way to help prevent a lot of illnesses. You protect yourself and you also protect those around you. There will always be a subsection of the population that will be vulnerable to pneumonia due to medical conditions or because they cannot get vaccinated. Getting yourself vaccinated also helps keep that vulnerable population safer.”
There are two pneumococcal vaccines recommended for adults. Talk with your health provider to determine which vaccine is best for you. If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit osfhealthcare.org/physicians to find one near you.